Two people have been killed in the Shia-dominated Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia on 3 August, including a security officer, in the latest clashes with security forces in the area.

Eleven people are reported to have been killed in the area since February last year when Shia groups started demonstrations to demand the release of Shia prisoners and equal rights with the country’s Sunni.

According to Major General Mansour al-Turki, a security spokesman at the Interior Ministry quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency, a security patrol in Qatif came under fire from a group of people on motorcycles, killing one security officer and wounding another. Four of the people involved in the incident were arrested by security forces and another was reported to have died in hospital from a bullet wound.

Low-level disturbances have persisted in the area since the beginning of the Arab Uprisings in early 2011. The Shia of the Eastern Province say they are discriminated against by the state and have been denied access to government jobs, although Riyadh denies this.

The Interior Ministry accuses “foreign parties”, usually a diplomatic way of pointing a finger at Iran, of stirring up trouble in the area. Both the Shia in the area and Tehran deny any Iranian involvement, but the accusations persist.